Why feeling pain is key to our happiness

Psychologist Brock Bastian on the curious benefit of unpleasantness to our pursuit of pleasure

Eric van Bemmel

Published 25 August 2017

Episode 401

Research psychologist Brock Bastian argues that a willingness to experience pain is crucial to our pursuit of genuine happiness, and that our efforts to escape unpleasantness or seek out only the positive in fact weaken us in managing life’s inevitable difficulties.

“Sometimes exposing ourselves to pains which have a clear parameter around them can lead to a contrast and help us to experience more pleasure in life”, says Dr Bastian.

“Changing the value of pain, changing the way we think about it, our expectations of it is a very, very important pathway to changing how we can cope with it.”

He adds, “I think relationships often fail when people aren’t willing to put up with pain and challenge and difficulty. You do have to embrace those things, and often relationships can be very uncomfortable and you need to deal with that discomfort head on.”

Presented by Eric van Bemmel.

Episode recorded 10 August 2017 Up Close producer: Eric van Bemmel Audio engineer: Gavin Nebauer Banner image: Sgt Paul Peterson / Wikimedia Commons

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